This week's premieres
Mona Lisa Smile (Úsmev Mony Lisy) - Drama by Mike Newell. British director Newell has covered a great deal of ground in his career, most notably with the immensely popular Four Weddings and a Funeral, the Johhny Depp/Al Pacino-starring mafia film Donnie Brasco, and Dance with a Stranger, one of the 1980s' most criminally overlooked films, in which he explores sexual desire within the rigid confines of the British class system during the 1950s. With Mona Lisa Smile, he transfers this concern with the intersection of class and sex during the mid-20th century to the other side of the Atlantic. At an elite all-female college in the northeastern US in 1953, a socially progressive art history professor (Julia Roberts) is dismayed to learn that the majority of her students are too preoccupied with finding a good husband to question the gender role that has been so carefully laid out for them. Quickly, she realises she must teach much more than art history to these girls, three of whom are played by a trio of young Hollywood's best and brightest: Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
photo: Continental Film
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King(Pán prsteňov: Návrat kráľa)- Fantasy/Epic by Peter Jackson. So, it is not perfect; it occasionally indulges in off-putting, supposedly humorous one-liners and the sort of inspirational pre-battle talk one would expect from a Mel Gibson or Kevin Costner movie. Nevertheless, it is a remarkably quick three-and-a-half hours, a gorgeous spectacle, and a worthy end to one of the most ambitious projects you are likely to see at the movies.
Intolerable Cruelty (Neznesiteľná krutosť) - Romantic comedy by Joel Coen. The Coen brothers' latest reaches a level of cynicism and absurdity not seen since the heyday of the 1940s screwball comedies of Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch or the 1950s/1960s work of supreme cynic Billy Wilder. Though not quite on the level of their best work, Intolerable Cruelty is still infinitely more enjoyable and clever than almost anything else Hollywood currently produces. George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones are delightful as the battling would be/want-to-be lovers. Geoffrey Rush, Cedric the Entertainer, Edward Herrmann, and Billy Bob Thornton each have memorable, smaller roles.
In the Cut (Smrtiaca vášeň) - Erotic thriller by Jane Campion. On the surface this is a dark, moody film about a woman (Meg Ryan) exploring her sexuality while there is a serial killer on the loose. However, director Campion seems more concerned with figuring out how and where love fits into modern urban life. Ultimately, though intermittently compelling, her findings are either unconvincing or extremely discouraging.
Prepared by Jonathan Knapp